Category: Sustainability Forum

A Look Back at the SRIRC and Changes Taking Place at King’s

Hello everyone,

First things first, my name is Tobias Udsholt and I will be working with the Sustainability Team at King’s over the next few months.

As a student at King’s I have spent a lot of time engaged on issues relating to asustainability. Now that I have completed my degree, I am very excited to spend the summer months putting words into action. I will only be with the team for a short period of time before I begin an MSc in Environmental Economics at LSE in September, but I hope to get a lot done. You can get in touch with me directly on

One area of particular interest to me is the debate over the role and responsibilities of universities in relation to the array of societal challenges we collectively face. As I see it, universities stand uniquely placed to nurture an understanding of the importance of sustainability amongst its students while playing a positive and active role in the wider social debate.

Grass root campaigns calling for divestment from fossil fuel companies have sparked intense debate on university campuses over the past few years. How far should universities go in taking a stance on issues such as climate change? Can engagement with companies whose business-models centre on the extraction of fossil fuels help shift us towards a more sustainable trajectory? And how should strategical objectives be balanced with ethical dilemmas?

King’s responded to the Fossil Free KCL campaign in November 2015, by setting up the Socially Responsible Investment Review Committee (SRIRC) and tasking it with a wide-ranging review of practices. On the same occasion Professor Ed Byrne, the Principal of King’s, released a statement reiterating “the commitment of King’s College London to doing more to bring about a low carbon and just world.”

The review conducted at King’s is distinct from the approach taken by many other universities in the UK. Rather than focusing solely on the framework for making investment decisions, the scope of the SRIRC extends to in-house energy management, research grants and contracts, fundraising, procurement and of course investments. By formulating a new university-wide strategy for incorporating ethical considerations into daily-operations, sustainability is put on the agenda across the board. This presents a good opportunity for the Sustainability Team to feed in ideas for new sustainable procedures in a variety of areas. If you want to participate in this process you can either send your recommendations directly to or via us at


On Wednesday, the SRIRC held its second Open Forum to discuss the draft recommendations issued by the committee. I invite you all to browse through the discussion points but among the highlights are the following:

  • King’s plans to identify high quality managers that specialise in investments in solutions to climate change and other environmentally friendly issues.
  • King’s is currently working to create more incentives for academics to disclose consulting engagements.
  • There is spectrum for closer supervision of the supply-chains of contractors employed by King’s.
  • Policy is in place to reject prospective funding from organisations that are deemed harmful.

The discussion paper also revealed that King’s has been an important player in the establishment of a new tobacco-free fund at BlackRock Investments. This illustrates that there are a number of options available to secondary investors that do not directly control the destination of their investment.

The Open Forum itself was lively and well-attended. The panel-speakers included two student representatives, Dr. Tytus Murphy and Nadine Almanasfi, the Student Union President, as well as Ian Creagh, Head of Administration and College Secretary, Chris Mottershead, Vice-Principal (Research & Innovation) and Professor Sridhar Venkatapuram. In the ensuing question-and-answer session students probed the criteria set out to identify opportunities for positive investment and how the governance structure of the committee will be formalised going forward.

The SRIRC will make their final recommendations to the Principal by October.

Next week is Bike Week at King’s so expect a foray of information on cycling facilities, safety and initiatives at King’s.

Until next time!


Socially Responsible Investment Review Committee Forum

Hi All

Jusocialst a quick reminder that we have the next Socially Responsible Investment Review Committee Forum tomorrow evening from 5pm to 7pm. It will be at S-2.08 at the Strand campus and will be an opportunity to hear what is happening in the world of King’s investment policy which involves ethical and sustainability issues such as fossil fuel companies. This is also a chance to have your voice heard on the topic.

More details can be found here.

Have a good week!

First Sustainability Forum 2014: Sustainable Start-ups

King’s students were given great ideas about social enterprises and how to start their own businesses last Thursday at the first Sustainability Forum.DSC_0005 small

The Sustainability Forum, which was held in Pyramid Room of Strand Campus, hosted two talks from Ento and Elephant Branded, a pair of university start-ups that are now innovative businesses based in London.

After a lively introduction about the Fossil Free campaign by Mark Horowitz, Sarah and Olivia opened the forum by explaining who the Sustainability Team are and what they hope the forum will achieve.

Ento (Japanese for insect) were the first to speak and argued that as the world’s population grows and countries become richer, other sources of food will be needed. Insects like grasshoppers and caterpillars could be the solution, as they are a more efficient food source than meat such as beef.

Ento is aiming to make eating insects more appealing to mass audiences by finding new ways to present them as food. They hope to slowly change the culture around insect food and introduce them into our everyday diet. Ento has partnerships with a farm in Spain who breed insects for human consumption, and organised a successful pop-up restaurant in 2013. They also sell products at speciality events and are planning to create a commercial product using crowdfunding.

The next speaker was Tim from Elephant Branded. Elephant Branded was started at university in 2011 and sells accessories hand-made by Cambodian communities using recycled cement bags. For every item Elephant Branded sells, a school bag or stationary kit is given to a needy child in Africa or Asia to help with their studies. In the past year Elephant Branded has snowballed, becoming more recognisable and selling in shops such as John Lewis. All of their profits currently go straight back into the business in order for them to expand the brand, with the founders not yet taking a salary.

Tim gave lots of advice to the students attending the forum, emphasising how important it was for universities students to take risks, especially on business ideas. Tim also stressed the point that Elephant Branded was not a charity, but a business, stating that “The more you make, the more you give away.” This highlighted the importance of financial sustainability: a social enterprise won’t last long without good foundations.

King’s students had lots of tough questions for the two companies, asking Ento about the appeal of their product, and Elephant Branded whether social products could ever challenge big brands. This helped for the discussion session which focused on how business could incorporate sustainability. This led to a livley debate about the nature of business and how monetary practices can be used to encourage certain types of behaviour.DSC_0008 small

Richard Milburn, a PhD student in war studies, who attended the forum said: “It was really good. My opinion is that business is the solution to the world’s problems. At the forum, you get interesting debate and multiple viewpoints. These examples of university start-ups are useful as it is encouraging. It provides inspiration and enables students.”

Sarah and Olivia were both pleased with the first forum, stating that “It was great to see two examples of how to transform a great idea into a practical enterprise, which is really useful for students.”

Overall the event was a great success, and the sustainability team were pleased to see so many students attend and are grateful to both sets of speakers. The next Sustainability Forum will be held in November and addressing the theme of ‘Well being, mental health and green spaces’.

Guest writer: Luke Graham


Sustainability Forum: Urban farms, food co-ops and crowdfunding


Faazi is a geography student at King’s College London. She provides her thoughts below on our second Sustainability Forum on sustainable food production and social entrepreneurship. 

The GrowUp story


Tom Webster on starting up the GrowUp farm

For our second forum we were lucky to have former King’s student Tom Webster come to talk to us about GrowUp, his sustainable urban farming business. Tom and his business partner Kate use vertical growing techniques and aquaponics to grow salad and vegetables and farm tilapia fish. Vertical growing means that food can be grown with much less space than traditional farming, which is ideal for cities – and also reduces transport emissions. The fish tanks are kept inside the greenhouses that the vegetables are in, so the heat from the tanks also heats the greenhouse. Aquaponics is a farming system where water is kept within a loop: the nutrient-rich water from the fish tanks is used to nourish the plants and is then recirculated to the tanks, so energy and water use are kept to an absolute minimum. Tom and Kate raised the initial costs of £16000 through a Kickstarter campaign, where anyone can donate to your project in return for a small gift once the project is up and running – proof that with a bit of work, anyone can take their ideas to the next level!

Brainstorm on sustainable food at King’s

As a group, we came up with loads of brilliant ideas to make food at King’s more sustainable. There isn’t a big range of healthy food sold in King’s Food outlets, and the labels don’t tell you how the food was produced and where it came from. Switching to sustainable, local suppliers who used seasonal food would reduce the carbon footprint of the food that we consume on campus. There is currently a farmer’s market every Tuesday on Guy’s Campus which sells local food, and it would be fantastic to have something similar on all five campuses.

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Lisa Dupuy reports on King’s first Sustainability Forum


Lisa is a master’s student in the War department at King’s, reading non-proliferation and international security studies. On her own blog she writes about journalism and conflict. She provides her thoughts below on King’s first Sustainability Forum.


How would students want to make King’s more sustainable, if they were the Principal? It was the question asked of the participants of the Sustainability team’s first sustainability forum, which took place on 31 October. To help the students get a grasp on the challenges of creating a ‘green movement’ within King’s College, Felix Spira had been invited to give a talk on behalf of rootAbility. As a student, Spira was the founder of the Green Office at Maastricht University (the Netherlands), a student-led sustainability unit that became a viable and authoritative body within the university, employing students to work on sustainability projects.

Since leaving Maastricht, Spira has duplicated this model and now assists other universities to set up their own sustainability unit. Spira walked the students through the stages of this process, dealing with such issues as commitment, time management and access. His ‘message’ centred around the idea that, regardless of clever schemes and policy, the actual impact of sustainability projects relies on whether you can get people – students, professors, staff – involved and convinced.

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Join us at the first King’s Sustainability Forum

Welcome to our new blog. We’ll be keeping you informed and inspired about sustainability activities at King’s College and we’ll always be open to any guest blog offers from staff, students or alumni. Just get in contact with us.

In the meantime the first thing we wanted to do was get the word out and invite you to our new Sustainability Forum. The first meeting is aimed at students as we had a great response at the Freshers’ Fair but staff are more than welcome to attend and we’ll make sure that we cater more directly for staff over the year.

Meet the team, share your ideas and learn about opportunities to get involved! We will be joined by Felix Spira, entrepreneur at rootAbility, a social business focusing on sustainability in the higher education sector.

Felix Spira

Felix Spira- the man himself!

As a student he co-founded the successful Green Office at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands. He will share his experiences and offer some inspiration and ideas on how to make an impact at university!

The Green Office set up and run by students at Maastricht university

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